Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend Waterfront Video for Roosevelt Island

With the Yankees being elimated from the playoffs summer is now over. The fall has begun and the cycle starts anew.
It's time for the Roosevelt Island Weekend Waterfront Music Video.
Let's join Jimmy Buffet and Martina McBride on a Trip Around the Sun.
Via You Tube.

Roosevelt Island Tennis Club Follow-Up

The Webcast of the RIOC Board's Real Estate Committee meeting on the proposed License Modification for the Roosevelt Island Racquett Club is now available for viewing. Those interested in getting a small glimpse of how decisions are made concerning the future of Roosevelt Island will find the 30 minutes both fascinating and tedious.
A Roosevelt Island resident who supports the expansion of the Tennis Club sends in this letter of support which I have excerpted below. The full contents of the letter appear in the comments section.

The recreational needs, and more specifically the tennis needs of Roosevelt Island’s population, 12,000 and growing, is not adequately served by the small volume of courts at Octagon, (the number of which have remained unchanged since the Island’s population was 2000.)

The Racquet Club’s 530 members as well as 50 staff frequently arrive and depart (for hourly games) on our tramway and eat at or order from our restaurants. The Racquet Club provides free instruction and play to a vast amount of community residents. PS/IS 217 uses 5 courts for several hours, twice a week for its children. The NY Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) program runs on weekends from the first week of November to April. The Winter program provides continuity throughout the year to an enrollment of approximately 300 children. Adults enjoy a significant discount in their membership fees, the Racquet Club has provided free hours for Roosevelt Islanders since its inception, and much of the Racquet Club’s open programs are used by Roosevelt Island residents.
I question whether this is sufficient reason to expand the facility without first exploring additional alternatives. I sent the following message to RIOC President Shane seeking more information on the proposed expansion.
... Since you have advised that had I previously asked about the length of the tennis club's license term you would have informed me it extends through 2031, I would like to ask you the following questions regarding the Racquet Club's proposed lease modification in the interest of a fully and knowledgeable Roosevelt Island public and hope to get a similar response.

What is the approximate square footage of the premises?

I understand from the webcast of the Real Estate committee meeting that the current base license fee is $225 thousand with approximately an additional $60 - $70 thousand in % fee. Is that correct?

What is the new proposed license fee?

How does the license fee for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club compare to other similarly situated clubs in New York City? Is it comparable in terms of fees and term? Is it even a relevant question?

Since the current license term extends through 2031 why does it have to be extended for an additional 15 years? The waiver of any potential liability for tram discontinuance does not seem reason enough to justify such an extension. After all there have been previous occasions when the tram was out of service and to my knowledge no such liability occurred. The willingness of the Tennis club owner to spend additional sums on a market study to determine the potential of a business opportunity for themselves hardly seems reason for RIOC to extend the license term either. Please explain what benefit does RIOC receive in exchange for the additional 15 year term?

Why does the Public Authorities Act not apply to such a large space as the Tennis Club with a license term extending to the year 2048. These premises are not the small shops on Main Street where applying the Public Authorities Law makes no sense.
How many Roosevelt Island residents are members of the club, either adult or children? What is the discount rate for Roosevelt Island residents and for how long has that been in effect?

Eventually, if an RFP is issued for the Sportspark facility and a bidder other than the current tennis club operator wins the RFP, under the terms of the proposed license modification, what exactly does that bidder have to pay the tennis club operator. I watched the webcast of the real estate committee meeting and am unclear in the event that another bidder wins the RFP what you meant by the winning bidder having to pay the tennis club for it's "going business value". Do you mean merely the value of the current tennis club or do you mean to include the potential value of a new "Chelsea Pier" type complex at the combined Sportspark/tennis facility. If you mean the potential value of the new facility that would put a competing bidder at a severe and unfair disadvantage in any bidding process.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would provide answers to these questions so that I may present the issue clearly, correctly and fairly to readers of Roosevelt Islander.

I was also surprised that none of these questions were raised during the RIOC Board's Real Estate subcommittee meeting. Is it that they either already knew the answers to these questions, do not think them relevant or some other reason that I am not aware of? ...

More Encampment Photos from Roosevelt Island

Here are a couple more photos from Roosevelt Island's The Encampment. These photos were sent in by Ghila Krajzman. Thanks!
More images from Curbed and Roosevelt Island 360
Blogger Scoboco recaps and summarizes the Encampent as well as provides the final image.

I remember backing out of a tent, hearing a wailing cry, turning around to see what was the cause of the noise and seeing a women walking very slowly holding a baby in her arms. I must admit being a bit frightened by her. Very effective!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Surf Paddling Around Manhattan for Autism Awareness

From outdoor clothing company Patagonia's blog the cleanestline, here is an account of the Surfers' Environmental Paddle NYC White Water event held last August. The purpose of the Paddle was to raise funds and awareness of autism. The participants paddled around the entire island of Manhattan. Pretty cool.
It is written by Patagonia ambassador Gerry Lopez.

Our somewhat motley gang of surfers attempting the first ever surf paddle circumnavigation of Manhattan were happy and energetic as we passed beneath the famed Brooklyn Bridge. Not far beyond, the Manhattan Bridge, backed up with early morning commuters, was our next landmark. Going around a slight left hand bend, the beautiful Williamsburg Bridge loomed ahead. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building were visible through the maze of high rises. The going got smoother as the river widened and our group began to string out as the stronger paddlers surged ahead. FDR Drive was to our left and occasional drivers honked as they passed by. The borough of Queens was to our right and the Queensboro Bridge crossing Franklin D. Roosevelt Island downstream. The current was in our favor, the river banks sliding by at a rapid pace creating a very gay mood with our paddling group.

Somewhere not far ahead near the confluence of the Harlem and East Rivers was the infamous Hell Gate. Our guides had warned of this notorious obstacle which at the wrong moment of the tidal push would be all but impassable on our surf craft. At its worse, Hell Gate had floundered or capsized a multitude of ships over the years. Our hope was to cross this strait at the extreme slack tide where the currents would be at their lowest ebb. The Triborough Bridge and the Hell Gate Bridge connect Manhattan to Queens and the Bronx and pass over Ward’s Island and Randall Island. We were told to keep to the extreme left as the two rivers split so to enter the Harlem branch. I was more than a little worried about the Hell Gate after all the stories. But the bridges we passed under were many, the names a blur … the Willis Avenue Bridge, the Third Avenue Bridge, the Park Avenue Bridge … all connecting Manhattan with the Bronx. Finally I asked another paddler when we would be passing the Hell Gate and he answered that we had gone through it 30 minutes ago. I thought back and could remember only flat water. Our timing must have been impeccable for this is what the plan had been … when the ideal tide situation was researched to select the best and most favorable moment to negotiate the worrisome obstacle.
Image is from the cleanestline and photo is by John Decker.

Is Competition Improving Gristedes?

Previous posts have asked the question whether the opening of the new Roosevelt Island Duane Reade will improve the quality and product offerings at the local Gristedes supermarket. Well, I don't know if the new Duane Reade has anything to do with this but I just experienced an example of a product that I have asked Gristedes to restock months ago which I finally saw on the shelf yesterday.

I like ginger beer, particularly spicy ginger beer. For my taste, Barritts and Stewart's make the best ginger beer product though Goya is acceptable. At one time Gristedes carried the Goya brand but for approximately the last 6 months they did not have it on their shelf. Yesterday, I had to go the adjoining Post office so I walked into Gristedes and to my surprise there was the Goya Ginger Beer. Not knowing when they will get another shipment, I bought 3 large bottles. Sorry if that means I am hoarding the Ginger Beer.
Image is from Amazon.

City Council Member Jessica Lappin

Roosevelt Island's representative to the New York City Council, Jessica Lappin was profiled today in the New York Sun. According to the article:

A newly elected assemblyman of the Upper East Side, Micah Kellner, said Ms. Lappin has shown that she is responsive to the needs of her district. He said she'd lobbied for city funding for a park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island and negotiated the arrival of a new middle school in the neighborhood.
The Main Street Wire reports that Ms. Lappin recently obtained $1.5 million for Southpont Park raising New York City's contribution to Southpoint Park's development to $4.5 million. In addition, Lappin has secured funding for the following Roosevelt Island organizations.
  • Day Nursery - $8.500 for scholarships
  • Historical Society - $50,000 for the visitor center at the Tram station, and $5,000 for staffing it
  • Residents Association - $4,000 for voting machine rental
  • Senior Center - $31,000 for staff and activities
  • Youth Program - $20,000 for program support
  • Disabled Association - $20,000 to support educational activities
  • PS/IS 217 PTA - $20,000 for educational activities
Image is of Manhattan's 5th Council District which includes Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Roosevelt Island Chase ATM Machine Opens

Further evidence of civilization arriving at Roosevelt Island. The Chase ATM in the Duane Reade at 425 Main Street is now open. If Antarctica can have an ATM, Roosevelt Island can have a new ATM as well.

According to the NY Times the ATM machine is 40 years old.

Yes, the A.T.M. turned 40 on Wednesday, if you count from the planting of one in a north London suburb, on June 27, 1967, as The Associated Press and others did. Now one stands in Antarctica, the A.P. said.

“The A.T.M. deserves an enormous amount of credit–or blame–for the way we live today,” Fortune magazine wrote in a meditation on the machine. But “it’s hard to know who to bestow it upon,” the magazine said, pointing to a debate over the father of the invention.

For its ubiquity in New York, credit is due to Walter B. Wriston, Citibank’s chairman in 1977, who placed a $100 million bet on “faceless boxes that spit out money,” an idea from his protege John S. Reed, who later led the New York Stock Exchange*.

Image is of Chase Manhattan Bank Tower from nyc-architecture.

Where Would you Rather Live - Hoboken or the Octagon Building on Roosevelt Island?

Last Sunday afternoon I was sitting at the Roosevelt Island Starbucks outdoor patio when I struck up a conversation with two people sitting at the adjoining table. I introduced myself as a writer of a Roosevelt Island blog and asked them if they lived on the Island. Their immediate reply was that I probably do not want to hear what they had to say about Roosevelt Island.

I assured them that I would be interested in whatever they had to say about living on Roosevelt Island because that was the whole purpose of Roosevelt Islander. They told me that they did not like Roosevelt Island and were looking to move as quickly as they could, even considering Hoboken, New Jersey. They explained that they lived in the Octagon building and could not stand the distance, time and effort involved in going back and forth to Manhattan. They spoke of the difficulties with the Red Bus transportation system but most of all were disappointed by the sense of isolation and disconnectedness from the City (Manhattan). They also said that the Octagon leasing office did not accurately portray the commuting difficulties or time involved to and from Manhattan. Many Octagon residents that they knew felt the same way.

I told them that I understood their feelings and felt much the same way when I lived in Manhattan Park but since moving to the Riverwalk buildings in Southtown my view of living on Roosevelt Island has changed completely. I suggested that they contact the Riverwalk leasing office before making the drastic step of moving to Hoboken.

There are many attractive benefits to living at either Manhattan Park or the Octagon on Roosevelt Island. Both have gorgeous waterfront locations with great views of Manhattan and beautiful green park grounds each with adjacent swimming pools as well as an outdoor tennis court facility and ball fields. However close proximity to Manhattan with access to any city life amenity is not one of those benefits. At Manhattan Park there is at least a significant Roosevelt Island discount, as compared to Manhattan, on rent but that is not the case at the Octagon.

The moral of this story is that if living within 15-20 minute walk of a movie theater, bookstore, museum, good restaurant, bar, nightlife and the buzz of the city is very important to you then perhaps the Octagon and Manhattan Park are not the right place for you to live, but Riverwalk may be. If the benefits of tranquility and recreational activities described above are more important and/or you have small children, then Manhattan Park and Octagon would be great places to live.
Octagon image is from Urban Daily Baby.
Hoboken image is from Wooden Signs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Public Speaking with Roosevelt Island Toastmasters

Did you know that there was a club on Roosevelt Island designed to improve your public speaking and presentation skills? There is and it is called the Roosevelt Island Toastmaster's Club, a chapter within Toastmaster's International.
Toastmaster's mission is to help:

men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking – vital skills that promote self-actualization, enhance leadership, foster human understanding and contribute to the betterment of mankind.
For example:
Have you ever been asked for your opinion about something, only to have your mind go blank? Have you given your opinion, but it was so disorganized that the point you were trying to make was lost?

The ability to “think and speak on your feet” is an important skill that often determines your success in job interviews, for example. All kinds of careers and occupations require this skill. Neil Chethik, a successful author, dreaded book-promotion tours because he didn’t know how he would answer questions on talk shows without his mind going blank. He credits Toastmasters’ Table Topics with giving him the edge he needed, “I would [practice by] flipping through the telephone book and talking about whatever was at the top of the page for a minute at a time,” Chethik says, “I found practicing Table Topics invaluable because it taught me to focus on one subject and perhaps even more importantly, to trust myself.”

That’s why the “Table Topics” portion of the Toastmasters club meeting was developed. Table Topics provides you with the opportunity to practice impromptu speaking.. By answering brief Table Topics questions, you learn how to present your thoughts clearly and convincingly, with no more than a few seconds of preparation. You also learn to listen constructively, and to think flexibly.
Roosevelt Island Toastmaster's next meeting is Monday, October 22 at 8 PM.
Image is from Voice and Speech Coach.

Roosevelt Island Fall for Arts Festival

A fun time was had by all at last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Fall for Arts Festival. Received this email from John Flannigan who sent in the images above.

I was lucky enough to be biking this weekend on the Island and came across the Fall for Arts festival. I took some photographs and i thought i would share them with you. They are attached, but they are also on my flickr page here:
Also, Roosevelt Island 360 created a very cool 10044 slideshow and reports from Crafts blogger Mama Robot that:
If only all craft fairs could be like Roosevelt Island's Fall for Arts. What other fair provides a free tent, table and chair, free food, volunteers offering to give vendors bathroom breaks, and tons of visitors ready to shop? They even hung back walls for our displays!
Via You Tube and Roosevelt Island 360, here is a Tap Jam video from the Roosevelt Island Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance.

Rental and Hurricane Insurance for Roosevelt Islanders

The Sunday NY Times Real Estate sections had a valuable article on insurance for renters.

... a basic renter’s policy not only provides coverage for theft, it also provides coverage for personal property and liability coverage for personal injury to others,” Ms. Salvatore said.

Robert Owens, the president of the Owens Group, an insurance brokerage in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., says many renters who do not have their own insurance believe they are adequately covered by the building’s insurance policy. “The renter’s personal property is not going to be covered by the building’s policy,” Mr. Owens said.

Renters can choose between two types of coverage. “Actual cash value” coverage pays to replace damaged items after taking depreciation into account. “Replacement cost” coverage pays to replace the property at today’s cost. The premium for replacement coverage is typically about 10 percent higher.

Besides deciding between actual-cash-value and replacement-cost coverage, renters must also choose a “named peril” or “all peril” policy. A named-peril policy specifies what risks are covered, like fire, windstorm, hurricane and theft, and excludes everything else. An all-peril policy covers all risks except those specifically excluded, like flood and earthquake.

“With all-risk coverage, if you are having a party and someone spills a glass of red wine on your white couch, the damage to the couch would be covered,” Mr. Owens said. “With a named-peril policy, it wouldn’t be.”
Also, today's NY Times reports on a proposed New York State hurricane insurance fund:
New York regulators are proposing that insurance companies set aside extra money to pay for damage in the event of a significant hurricane, seeking to ease, at least in the state, the soaring premiums faced by millions of Americans along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. But insurers have expressed reservations.
Image is from The Insurance Policy.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sailing the East River Past Roosevelt Island

Bloggers Buds @ Sea describe their recent experience with the Coast Guard, Bridge Operators, Scrap Barges, the NYPD and machine gun boats as they try to sail their way down the East River past Roosevelt Island.

We had to arrive at a famously turbulent spot in the East River called Hell Gate at slack water at 9:12am, when the current is calm for a few minutes and then proceed down with the ebb tide (out going current), admire all the sights of Manhattan's east side and proceed into New York harbor, Statue of Liberty, etc.

Among the sights of course were all those big suspension bridges: the Queensborough, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn, etc. No problem for Sogno's 53 foot mast to pass under. HOWEVER, the EASTERN passage of Roosevelt Island. had a lift bridge (a type of draw bridge) that was only 40 above the water in its normal position. Most sailboats normally avoid it by going down the UN side of the island (WESTERN passage), but we didn't have that option this time. But everyone from the Coast Guard to the bridge operator assured all the sailboats that it would duly lift when requested to.

Well you guessed it - when the lift bridge got its moment of glory around 9:15, it wouldn't budge! Now there were around 10 sailboats, and some larger power boats all circling around in the rapidly building current waiting for the bridge or Coast Guard to do something. In the meantime a tug and ugly scrap barge were approaching and the skipper was telling us to be sure to get out of the way, because he was coming through and could get under the bridge in any event. Things then got even more interesting.

We were ordered by the Coast Guard to go around and wait on the WESTERN side. They planned to escort us through soon, but until "plan" was all approved, be sure NOT to go past the Queensborough Bridge. That was easy to figure out since there were USCG boats with 2 machine guns each, clearly blocking that area.

We all then sped off at max speed into the ebbing current to go around the north end of Roosevelt I., and then got out of the way of the tug/barge, which was escorted through the west side after all. The CG then said the lift bridge would be fixed, head back to the EAST. Then the NY PD said, we could go back down the WEST side, but the machine gun boats didn't get the word, and all was a big mess for a while. Finally it was all straightened out (after nearly 2 hours) and we all motored as slow as we could, in a single file past the UN, trying to stay separated by 1000 yards!
The You Tube video is from Island Spirits 35.
Roosevelt Island 360 has post on topic as well.

RIRA Meeting Wednesday 10/10/07 on Nominees for RIOC Board

Roosevelt Island Resident's Association will hold a meeting on Wednesday, October 10 at 8 PM in the lower community room of Westview (625 Main Street) to discuss the upcoming election/plebiscite that will choose the residents nominees for appointment to the RIOC Board of Directors. All are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Here is information on RIOC Board Nomination and balloting process from the Main Street Wire.
Editorial from the Main Street Wire:

RIRA is gearing up for a first-ever vote to choose the community's nominees for the Board of Directors of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. (You've read about this in these pages before, and you can be sure we'll be coming back to the subject.) In immediate prospect is a community-wide meeting Wednesday night (October 10) at 8:00 in the lower community room at Westview (625 Main Street). There, people who have been working on self-governance for Roosevelt Island for a decade-plus will describe, briefly, this process in which our votes will choose residents whose names will be put before the Governor with the morally compelling request that he appoint them to the RIOC Board.

Why is that important?

The RIOC Board is like our City Council here in this neatly defined river town where the State calls the shots and the Board sets policies and approves plans. Running for and serving on that Board is a chance for real impact. If you've ever contemplated government service or elective office, this is your crack at it, in a situation where the decisions you help make will have the potential for direct influence on your life and on the lives of your fellow residents - our safety, our recreational opportunities, our transit needs, our quality of life... our very future in this terrific community.

Wednesday night at 8:00 is a chance to learn more about putting your name on the February 5 ballot, or to find out how you can help the community take this important step. Come out of curiosity, out of concern, or out of determination to make things better... But come.

Webcast of Town Hall Meeting on Future of Roosevelt Island Tram!!

The Webcast of the Town Hall Meeting on the Future of the Roosevelt Island Tram is now available here. If you were not able to attend this meeting please take the time to watch so that you are informed of the various options.

It is critically important for the future of Roosevelt Island to upgrade and improve the transportation infrastructure of this Island particularly with all of the new residents coming to the Southtown Riverwalk buildings.

Don't let any of our neighbors or visitors get trapped dangling over the East River for hours again.

The Main Street Wire has more here.

  • Alternative 1 would take care of the track ropes, replace some critical components, and involve only two months of downtime. It would cost only about $5.6 million. But the engineers give it a life expectancy of only seven years; one reason is that the system would not be fully modernized, and would mostly use mechanical parts equivalent to the current 30-year-old setup.
  • Alternative 2 would involve a "fundamentally new system" with a probable 30 years of useful life ahead of it. The cost would be $14.25 million - just about the amount the State has set aside. Six months of downtime would be involved.
  • Alternative 3 would result in a system very similar to that in Alternative 2, but it would add an alternative drive motor, increasing reliability. The hit in downtime would be seven months, and the cost would be $17.25 million.
  • Alternative 4 would involve a departure from the present "jigback" or "clothesline" system in which cabins move simultaneously in opposite directions. In this scheme, the two sides of the system would be separated, and they would be able to operate independently. Cost: $20.4 million and seven months of downtime.
In regard to the subway:
Residents were concerned about another set of alternatives - what to do for transportation without a Tramway to relieve subway overcrowding, especially at rush hour, or to cope when the F line is out of commission for one reason or another. Extra subway trains are simply not operationally feasible, according to the MTA, so reliance could be placed on buses taking rush-hour commuters to Queens Plaza to board subway trains there. But Shane and others observed that buses going all the way to Manhattan were slow at times, inconvenient almost all the time, unreliable, and underutilized in previous Tramway outages.
Image is from

Walking Around Roosvelt Island's Southpoint Park at Night

This is what Southpoint Park look looks like when visiting at night. Very few people have ever experienced this view. It is very eerie.

Under most circumstance, one cannot walk around Southpoint Park at night unless there is a special event like the July, 4 fireworks, an outdoor movie presentation or a project like The Encampment. However, Southpoint Park is open during the day for everyone to enjoy the wonderful views of the East River, Manhattan and Queens Skyline, the sound of the water at your feet as well as the feeling of knowing that you are in a very special place unlike anywhere else in the City of New York.
Video is from

Visit to Renwick Ruins on Roosevelt Island

Photo blogger the Weblicist visited Roosevelt Island's Renwick Ruins (also known as the Smallpox Hospital) on the way to see The Encampment and asks the following question:

What do St. Patrick’s Cathedral and The Island Hospital have in common?
They were both designed by the famous 19th Century architect James Renwick Jr.
Images are from the Weblicist. There are more creepy Renwick pictures at the jump and Encampment images here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Seeking an Aerial View of Roosevelt Island's "Encampment"

Returning from an out of town trip yesterday afternoon, the flight path of the plane took me directly over the "Encampment" installation on Roosevelt Island. It was quite stunning seeing dozens of white tents lined up in rows on Southpoint Park from a plane flying above them.
The view at night of the illuminated tents from a plane must be spectacular.
If anyone out there happens to be on a plane or a helicopter flying over Roosevelt Island, or knows someone who is, please try to take some photos and/or video of the installation and send them to Thom Sokoloski, the creator of the Encampment.
The Toronto Star on the "Encampment".

As hundreds of New Yorkers walked among the some 100 vintage pale white tents on Roosevelt Island last night, every one silhouetted against the brilliant New York skyline, they couldn't have known how close "The Encampment," by Toronto artist Thom Sokoloski, came to being shut down even before it could be put up.

New York is now discovering the most compelling installation in its own backyard since the salmon-coloured fabric of Christo's and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates" brightened up a wintry Central Park in 2005. They won't have long, though. "The Encampment" comes down after tonight.
Problems earlier in the week when:
On Tuesday, he even felt he might have to abandon entirely the $100,000 project until a supporter came up with the needed money in the last minute. Local bureaucracy wasn't particularly helpful, either. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) had withdrawn the promise of some $12,000 in funding, after promising its financial support earlier this year.

By yesterday, though, the last of the 99 other Civil War-style dog tents were finally in their not-quite symmetrical militaristic rows. These were the final touches on the scrubby site across the East River from the United Nations that had been transformed by visiting school kids putting up tents, busloads of hospital patients helping to fill them with artifacts, the arrival of the New York Times, Fox TV and other media outlets, as well as some well-timed appearances by local politicians.
With the problems fixed:
Now Sokoloski had every reason to be cool. "It's a wonderful moment when everyone going by, in boats or planes overhead or driving along the Roosevelt Parkway, first sees the lights in the tents," he says. "What did I do here? I created a model of sociability. I worked with people. I shook their hand."
Image is from All New York Tours.